The pitch was booming. Everyone was chanting for their favorite team, for their favorite player. I’ve never seen a stadium so packed. I was sure there were people simply standing because they couldn’t get a seat, but wanted to watch this game. Was that even allowed? Im sure people paid more just simply to stand like that. How many people were here? Millions it seemed like.
On the opposite side of the pitch, I could see the orange of the seven Cannon players making their way to the middle of the pitch. They looked like one single mesh. They didn’t look like seven individuals; they looked like one team. They were synced with one another. I felt envious of them. I could feel the tension of our team. We were nothing like them. We were going to lose our first game.
I chanced a glance at James. His face was paler than usual. His eyes were narrowed in slits. He knew exactly what I did. The difference was that you could see the glint of hope in James’s eyes. He always had hope, something I was envious of. He always saw the glass half full. He always saw the bright side of things. That was James Sirius Potter. He didn’t have a negative bone in his body unless it is about someone who has hurt someone he loves. He was damn near perfect.
I looked back slightly and to my left to see Matt Hankin. He was simple. He never questioned anything. He was immensely loyal to everyone on the team. He didn’t ask for much from anyone. Sure, maybe he drank to excess, but didn’t we all? We were sports players for Merlin’s sake. We loved our alcohol. He had his hand tight around his broom. He wasn’t looking at anyone.
I knew Adam was right behind me. Sweet Adam Freeman. You could never go wrong with him. He was a lover. He loved women, most of all. Sure, he needed some extra help with understanding the plays, but that was what I was here for. He was like the unruly brother, except I was hoping he wouldn’t hit on his sister. He did it innocently, though. His jaw was set and his lips pulled over his teeth in a snarl. Though to me, he wasn’t intimidating at all.
Next to Adam was Chris Piette. Chris probably was the most talented seeker I have ever come across in my lifetime. I don’t think he has ever not caught the snitch. He was modest, though. That was what made him so amazing. He didn’t let he fame or the fortune or his talent make his head big. His first love was his wife and that was all that seemed to matter to him. He looked a little afraid, but only I could see that from the fear I have seen from him almost losing his wife before.
Behind Chris and Adam I knew Barry and Scott were shoulder to shoulder. They had been in the business for quite some. Literally since birth. Right now, I knew they wanted nothing to do with one another. My heart was breaking for them. They were blood and now I doubt they’d even be able to play the game together. They truly loved one another. I really didn’t know if they did anymore after what just happened.
We didn’t look organized. We didn’t look like a team. We looked like seven separate players about to get demolished by the one team I couldn’t stand to lose against. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rub all of their faces into the grass until sense was drilled into their brain. I wanted to duplicate myself and make me the only player. Instead, I gripped my broom tighter and met the Chudley Cannons. I wanted to grip James’s hand when I saw the look on Tyler Gates’ face. He wasn’t looking at James, our captain, like he should have. He was staring right at me.
And then he had the nerve to wink.
James snapped right on spot. In one swift motion he was chest to chest with Tyler, yelling profanities at him. When did James take such a big shot of testosterone? When did he become so defensive of me? Everyone leapt into action. Our team was pulling James back. The Cannons were trying to put themselves in between the pair as the ref blew his whistle countless times. Tyler was shouting back at James. It seemed they were both trying to see who could get louder than the other.
Me? I stood there, dumbstruck. I didn’t know how to act. I could see James’s fists curling into balls at his side. He was going to strike. I leapt into action, managing to squeeze my small body in between them. My front was to James, my back to Tyler. Tyler was still shouting, but James had stopped, looking down at me in confusion. We were basically nose to nose. I felt his body heat radiating off of him.
“It’s not worth it, James.” I told him softly. He blinked at me, his face expressionless. He was having a big internal battle of morality. I couldn’t let him ruin this game. If he wanted to get back at Tyler, he’d do it on the field. I couldn’t hear anything around us other than the heavy breathing coming from James. I reached for his hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
“For me.” I pleaded. Immediately he stepped back and away from Tyler. I smiled at him. That was James, the boy I was fake dating. He had the biggest heart. He cared about his teammates. Tyler was still shouting, nearly directly in my ear.
“Oh shut up, Gates! Your shouting isn’t going to help your game!” I shrieked, turning sharply and glaring at him. My team chuckled behind me.
“Neither is you sleeping with your captain!” He hissed back. I gasped, advancing forward, but feeling a pair of large arms around my hips pulling me back.
“He’s not worth it, love.” James’s soft voice whispered in my ear. I looked behind me to see every team member glaring at Tyler. Matt was at my side. Chris and Adam were close, cracking their knuckles threateningly. Barry and Scott were shoulder to shoulder, bats at the ready.
We were a team again.
“Let’s play.” I growled, glaring down Tyler. This was going to be good.
The thing about Quidditch females is that we are naturally more graceful fliers. It may sound strange, but it is true. We were born with stronger legs, hence a better kick off. We are smaller, which means we have better aerodynamics. We also have a certain determination that men don’t have. A desire to strive above and beyond what men expect of us.
Or at least I do.
That was why I reached the quaffle first. It was a mass of blinding speed rushing past me as the Cannons went into defense and we went into offense. This was how you played the game. I felt someone on my tail, but dipped quickly past a bludger losing them. I threw the ball towards James and watched him shoot off in his own dance with Gates.
This wasn’t just a game of Quidditch. It was a grudge match. I realized that when I saw Gates throw an illegal elbow towards James’s face and blood started pouring from his nose like a sprinkler.
Oh this game would be interesting.
“How many bloody penalties are the refs going to call before they pull someone?!” Barry growled as we all stood in a jumbled mess. People had blood coming out of places I didn’t know blood could come out of. People were barely standing at this rate. I was surprised anyone could fly. What was the worst part of it all?
I didn’t have a single scratch on me.
They were doing this on purpose, I knew. Tyler told them to stay away from me. It was more than just a match against two top ranked teams. This game was a pride call against the two top captains. The Cannons surely weren’t training all week. They probably were in martial arts classes or something along those lines. Whenever a Falcon would try to retaliate, the Cannons came back with something ten times worse.
Adam doubled over and coughed blood onto the grass. I cringed slightly away from him. Matt winced as he touched his swollen eye. Barry was trying to clean up a large, deep cut on Scott’s cheek. Chris, though barely touched like me, was hunched slightly from a bludger to his ribs. James, however, was standing tall. He had the worst damage, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He wouldn’t let Gates get the best of him.
I felt a weird surge in my chest at this. I couldn’t describe it, but I suddenly felt very proud of James.
“Those boody gits!” Matt hissed.
“We’re the bloody ones, mate.” Adam commented, wiping at his mouth viciously.
“You all look like a bunch of pansies out there!” Coach Smithson shouted at us. I’m sorry, did I miss the score of 120-70?
“We’re winning.” I snapped. He glared straight through me.
“Yet the whole team is getting walked all over. I wonder why that is, Ms. Jacobs?” He looked at me knowingly. I felt my face grow hot at his comment and was immediately silent. I didn’t have anything to say after that point.
“Lay off of her, Coach.” James growled immediately in response. I glowered at him.
“I can stand up for myself, James.” I hissed towards him. He looked taken back, but didn’t say anything else.
“Then do it, Jacobs!” Coach shouted. His face was starting to turn purple. Good. Maybe he’d pass out and we wouldn’t have to hear this. “Stand up for yourself out there. Look at your team. Do something about it.”
Sadly, Coach Smithson was right. I was letting my team get walked all over. I was letting them all get hurt because of me. The Cannons weren’t hurting us because we were a high ranked team; they weren’t like that. They were doing cheap shots because Tyler Gates, their captain, happened to be my ex. They were doing this to remind me of that. Tyler wasn’t going to intimidate me any longer. He was going to get what was coming to him from those many years ago.
“I’m doing the best I can, Tyler!” I shouted through the sweat dripping down my face. I was sure there were tears mixing in with them.
“You’re not doing good enough!” Tyler screeched back. He slammed the quaffle he was holding into the ground. It made a large THUMP noise, but didn’t roll away. I wanted to scream at Tyler. Tell him he was working me too hard. I felt my head spinning I was so light headed and drained from the heat.
“I’m trying.” I whispered feebly. Tyler let out a ear shattering laugh. He shook his head at me and got about an inch away from my face.
“You want to win the Cup this year, Gigi? You want scouts to notice you? Do you want to get drafted?” They were dumb questions. He knew my answer was yes to all of them. He didn’t leave time for me to respond. He grabbed my broom and slammed it into my hands. “Then work! Go! Not even the Banshees are going to want you at this rate!”
He threw the quaffle into the air again as high as he could throw it. I shot up after it, kicking off hard and soaring high. I grabbed it before it began to fall, but I still heard Tyler’s whistle from below. He wasn’t satisfied with my kick off. He was never satisfied with my Quidditch skills. I landed, nearly crumbling into a heap.
“Good luck getting drafted, Gigi. You’ll be on the sidelines at this rate.” Tyler hissed, looking away from me as though I was lower than the dirt beneath our feet.
“Let’s go.” I demanded, walking away from the huddled group that was my team and into the middle of the field. The rest of the team followed in confusion. Yet no one questioned my madness. That’s the kind of confidence a true Quidditch team had in one another.
I wasn’t going to let Tyler Gates affect my game. He wasn’t going to get the better of me. Not today. Not ever. I felt James squeeze my hand and I felt a sense of protection wash over me. This team was my family and I’d be damned if I was going to let the Cannons ruin that. They’d have to go through me first and that’s a feat in itself.
“Ouch! Gates takes a nasty elbow to the face from Jacobs! How is that not a foul?” The commentator boomed. What can I say, I knew dirty moves that were legal. My elbow burned slightly, but I flew back into formation, ignoring Gates’s swears towards the refs.
Matt laughed as he shot the quaffle in the hoops with ease and it soared right in. The Cannon’s keeper was supporting a few cracked ribs due to a hard quaffle to the stomach via a Gigi Jacobs. He was already a slow flier and adding this in it had given us an additional fifty points. Sixty now. I smirked over towards Tyler Gates. I could see the shocked expression on his face. I could see the fear in his eyes. Good. Now he knew what it felt like.
I felt someone fly right past my ear. I glanced quickly to see Chris stretching towards the snitch. He stretched his freakishly long fingers out and caught the fluttering ball within his grasp. The crowd suddenly was louder than I’ve ever heard it before. Suddenly we were all engulfing one another in hugs. It was like we had just won the World Cup. Right now it didn’t matter that everyone probably needed a week off in order to recover. What mattered was that we had beaten the Chudley Cannons.
And it felt damn good.
“You’re a foul cheater, Jacobs!” Tyler screamed from outside of our circle. I glared at him over Matt’s shoulder, pushing past him.
“Wonder where I learned it from, Gates,” I growled at him.
I loved him. Plain and simple. He was my world. Him and Quidditch, that was all that mattered. I could see our future. I could see the two of us playing Quidditch, having children, and retiring happy together. A little bouncing blonde boy. A curly brown haired girl. A family. Mrs. Tyler Gates. Genevieve Gates. Gigi Gates. Gigigi. Had a bit of a ring to it, I have to admit.
I looked down at the shining ring on my finger and grinned. It was simple, yet so elegant I could not stop staring at it. Mom and Dad loved him. Jenny and Gabby thought he was the most charming, handsome younger guy they had met. Grandma threatened to steal him from me. He fit right in to my tight knit family. We were going to be our own tight knit family.
I was on cloud nine. Nothing could pull me down, honestly. Why would I want to be down? I had the love of my life within my grasp. All of my hard work since I was young was finally paying off. It was like karma was finally on my side. I was engaged. I was drafted onto a professional Quidditch team. Things were finally falling into place. I felt elated. I felt ecstatic.
Tyler and I had just moved into our own small, one bedroom apartment. It was simple. Yet elegant. I suppose that was how you could describe everything with us. We were living an ideal, perfect life together. Soon, we’d be able to afford our perfect wedding. I’d have the large gown, the long train, the countless flowers, the bridesmaids, the maid of honor, the hundreds of attendants, but most importantly, I’d have my groom at the end of the aisle waiting for me.
Hannah would be my maid of honor. She’s been my best friend since we both attended Salem. The first day of school we immediately became friends. She was my other half. Sure, she didn’t play Quidditch, but she was always at my games. Sure, she didn’t study as well as I had, but she had stayed up every night with me, talking me while I studied. I had been with her through heartache, through joyful times, and through times when neither of us thought anything would get better. She was closer to me than my sisters were. Tyler and her were the two people in my life that were my constant.
I had gotten done early from training. The Meteorites knew I was capable of doing anything they asked of me. I was easily going to rise to the top with that Canadian team, no doubt. I smiled to myself. Yes, everything was perfect. I quietly entered our muggle apartment. Tyler liked to sleep whenever he got the opportunity. The Cannons were running him dry. I looked down as I took my shoes off and frowned slightly. Hannah’s bright pink pumps were next to Tyler’s tennis shoes.
I shrugged it away. Hannah was here a lot when I got done with training. I was glad the two of them got along so well. It was quiet throughout the apartment. Hannah worked strange hours herself and probably had crashed on the couch. I tip-toed towards the bedroom, going to wake up Tyler first before I bothered Hannah. That’s when I heard a distinct noise. A groan. And then a giggle. I froze on the spot. No, it couldn’t be…
I pushed the door open with my toe and my body immediately stopped working. Tangled in the sheets, butt-naked, and in the middle of making love to one another, was Tyler and Hannah. They both immediately jumped apart when they caught sight of me, but the damage was done. My best friend and my fiancé were sleeping together.
And my world had fallen apart.
“And then WHAM! Gigi knocks Gates into the stands! You should have seen the look on his face!” Adam reenacted the game, bouncing wildly on James’s couch. I took another swig of fire whiskey as everyone else laughed at his antics.
“What’s the matter, Jacobs? You did fantastically today; you should be celebrating!” Chris said, coming over towards me and clinking his glass with my own without my consent.
“It’s what I do,” I mumbled, taking a swig again.
“What do you mean?” Chris asked, settling into the love seat next to me, swinging his arm over my shoulder.
“Play Quidditch. It’s what I do best,” I told him, not looking at anything in particular. Chris nodded awkwardly from my side.
“You do a lot of great things, Gigi.” Chris tried to clarify, but I shook my head at him. I wasn’t going to have it.
“Quidditch is all I know, Chris. All I care to know, honestly. So yes, I did well. I will always do well. That’s what you can expect from me,” I explained to him. Chris chuckled from next to me, giving my shoulder a squeeze.
“We do expect you to do well, Gigi. We expect a lot of you. Too much. The most important thing is you remember that Quidditch isn’t everything. You have to indulge on the little things. Like the fire whiskey in your hand. Or even our captain across the room,” Chris added the last with a wink. I shifted uncomfortably.
“Quidditch is everything, Piette. The only thing that I need. If I engulf myself in it…” I let my words drift off. Then what? What did I get from engulfing myself in Quidditch.
“You forget.” Chris finished for me. He was right. I’d forget the pain. “But it eventually comes back, Jacobs.”
He got up and went back to our team who was now chanting something about seeing a girl’s “hoo-has”. I watched as James animatedly pretended he had a pair and Adam groped them freely. He was explaining to a blushing Chris how he had to play with his wife’s “hoo-has”. It was like nothing had happened over the last 24 hours. It was like they were all still the connected team everyone set them out to be.
And I wasn’t a part of it. I was just watching it. I took a strong swig of my drink again.
“Oi! Princess! Come take a shot!” Adam shouted from across the room. I lifted my drink.
“I’m good, thanks,” I told him. James frowned and crossed the room towards me. He knelt down in front of me, studying me intently.
“What’s the matter, love?” He asked. I shifted again. I didn’t like being called that.
“Nothing.” I told him. James frowned and took Chris’s spot on the couch.
“Well, I don’t let a teammate sulk in the corner. Especially one that’s my fake girlfriend. You’re giving me a bad image.” James joked. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t even crack a smile. “We beat them. I thought you’d be jumping on the couch like Adam.”
“I’m happy we won. We practiced our asses off and we came through.” I told him. It was like I was talking in an interview. It’s how rehearsed I felt.
“But we beat your ex, Gigi. We beat the prick that hurt you.” James said in disbelief at my words. I barely cringed. I felt all emotion sinking out of me. I felt the air suffocating me.
“He was another player of another team. Nothing more.” I explained. James looked taken back at my words. “I’m going to get home. Get some rest. Just because we won one game doesn’t mean we can lose the big picture.”
I got up and James immediately followed. “I’ll walk you over there.” He said, putting a hand on my lower back. I immediately swiped it away. I could see the hurt look on his face and the confusion mixed in.
“I can walk myself home. It’s across the hall,” I told him. I don’t know how it happened, but my voice was colder than I intended. James did a double take.
“Who are you and what have you done with my Gigi?” James asked in a quiet voice.
“I’m not yours. I was never yours. This is all fake, James. I think it’s about time you realize that.” I hissed. James looked dumbstruck. I took that as my opportunity to quickly dash out and into my own apartment.
I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. What had gotten into me? Who was I? James’s voice rang in my head. I shook the thought away. I was a Quidditch Player. Nothing more, nothing less. It was about time that I realized that. It was about time that everyone else accepted it. They wanted a good Quidditch player? Fine. They’d get one. But they wouldn’t get the skimpy shorts, the trophy girlfriend, or the sexily posing girl.
They’d get Gigi Jacobs. Quidditch player. The only Gigi Jacobs that was alive anymore.